LOS ANGELES — The Lakers were playing at home after an off day on Saturday. The Wolves, meanwhile, were playing in Los Angeles a night after winning in Utah. That travel attrition, according to D'Angelo Russell, can be something that it overlooked when it comes to analyzing NBA games, and that's where Russell put a significant portion of blame for the Wolves' lopsided 127-91 loss to the Lakers.
"We don't know how much a back-to-back plays into another team's favor," Russell said. "As a young team, it's our first back-to-back. I would say as a group we didn't approach it the right way as far as being prepared."
The Wolves didn't look prepared from the start and had to adjust on the fly after finding out they would be without center Karl-Anthony Towns for an indefinite period of time because of a dislocation in his left wrist. The Wolves are going to have to feel their way around in the wilderness a bit, trying to figure out what works and what doesn't with Towns out.
Their first experiments were not promising Sunday. The offense had no rhythm, with Russell confessing he couldn't find any in shooting 2 of 7. Anthony Edwards shot an inefficient 6-for-21 while Malik Beasley was 3-for-9.
The defense wasn't much better. It didn't help that Kyle Kuzma hit his first four threes of the night, sending this game into a tailspin quickly.
"We got to have a sense of urgency from the jump," Beasley said. "It's the defending champs. We want to come out, play and compete against them. We didn't come out with a sense of urgency that we need to do and we learn from it. We can't dwell on it at all."
The Wolves will stay in Los Angeles to face the Clippers, who also suffered a 51-point blowout loss to the Mavericks on Sunday at Staples Center.
The Wolves shot just 17% from three-point range, and Towns' absence likely played a part in that, considering the attention he draws gets others open shots.
"When the other center is guarding him, the other center is so worried about him the lane becomes open for us," Beasley said. "Little things like that and we didn't have that tonight."
And may not have for more nights in the future.